Referral marketing for accountants (part two)

Nov 14, 2008 | Business messaging and branding, Referrals

In a recent post I introduced the concept of referral marketing for accountants and set out the main reasons why many accountants don’t explore this low cost marketing technique.In this post I’ll highlight some of the key issues and in part three I’ll address explain ways to overcome any reluctance to adopt this approach to seeking new clients.

So – why is that so few accountants have embraced the concept of referral marketing? By which I don’t simply mean asking clients who they can think of from amongst their friends, colleagues and others they know who might be worthwhile prospects for the accountant.No, I’m more focusing here onencouraging happy clients to know that you encourage and value referrals.In the final part of this series I’ll suggest that there are other people who could support your efforts to secure more clients through referral marketing – other professionals and suppliers to your target clients who will pass on your name (refer you) when the opportunity presents itself.

Some people undertake referral marketing without a specific plan or focus. I’m also seeing an increasing number of accountants who include a reminder that they grow through referralsas a ‘ps’ at the end of letters and emails. This can work well but it’s best if both the accountant and the recipients of the message are clear as to what sort of referrals are sought. Does your firm have a focus? A specialism? Something that will help people to refer to you as being distinct from all of the other accountants they know.

Which of the following 3 firms would you want to be with if clients from each of them were talking about you and two others to a friend who wants a recommendation to a new accountant?

“I’m pleased to recommend my accountants, ‘Wee Count Alot & Co’ who’ve looked after me for years”

“My accountants are great as they’re always saving me tax”

“I just let my accountants sort everything out for me, they save me tax and seem really focused on issues that matter to [businesses like mine]”

At least the first one knew their accountants’ name but the endorsement (referral) wasn’t particularly strong as compared with the other two, was it?

So one key action is to consider how you want to be described, what you can do to influence that and also to consider whether you intend to focus on a specific client type or service area.Until you are clear as to what you’re seeking in terms of referrals you are unlikely to get them. Much the same as shooting an arrow in the air is unlikely to secure you a bullseye if you have no target it mind.


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